Refutation: Jesus says that the Father is greater than he is, proving that he is not God.
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
Jesus says that the Father is greater than he is, proving that he is not God. There is no one who is greater than God.
Sam introduces the passage upon which the question is based, it reads:
“You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you ‘ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater (meizon) than I.” John 14:28
His immediate response is to confuse himself, he says and I quote:
Yet, if God is a Trinity, a Trinitarian Being (i.e. one eternal God existing in three distinct, yet inseparable Persons), then it is quite possible for one member or Person of the Godhead to be greater in some sense than the other members. It would be true that nothing outside of the Holy Trinity’s own existence could ever be greater, but this doesn’t necessarily imply that there cannot be some type of authority structure or ranking within the internal life and relationships of the Trinity itself.
Logically speaking, this form of reasoning is highly fallacious. Since each member of the Godhead is fully God, and God is perfect in each and every way, to have one God being superior to another God, has to mean that the definition and understanding of God has to change. We must accept that God is perfect, one perfect being cannot be superior to another unless one is less perfect than the other. If a being who is assumed to be a God is not absolutely perfect, then this being cannot by very definition, be considered a God. Hence for there to be a hierarchy within the Godhead, we are dealing with one superior God and two lesser Gods. This presents a theological conundrum, as it must be understood that if the first God in the hierarchy is perfect and there is a second God, then this second God is less perfect than the first, thus it logically follows that the third God would therefore be less perfect than both the first and second Gods. With this in mind, it would be best that Sam disuse the premise that their could possibly be a hierarchy within the Godhead. Notwithstanding the evidential fact that the Godhead in itself is polytheistic in nature.
Polytheistic in the sense that if God is one, then in what sense is this God, multi-personal? In what way is God considered a ‘person’ (an individual of specified character)? If I am to believe that God has specific traits, how can God then be multi-personal without increasing or decreasing His traits amongst distinct individuals, exclusive of Himself? Thus, consequentially, by this very description of God being multi-personal (i.e. the nature of the Godhead), God has been relegated to a person among other persons, therefore equating to multiple Gods. Rather, to foster a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the Godhead in light of personhood, it would equate itself to God with gods. Seeing that I have aptly demonstrated the incredulous nature of a hierarchy within the Godhead and the illogical and polytheistic nature of the Godhead, let’s continue to examine Sam’s fallacious reasoning:
“For now, let us deal with what Jesus intended to convey to his disciples that the Father was greater than he. In the first place, the term for “greater” (Greek – meizon) does not necessarily imply one who is greater in nature or essence. It can refer to someone or something being greater in position and/or authority“
Since God’s nature is to be all powerful and all perfect, how does Sam seek to qualify his statement in the response he has given? If God is perfect, then he cannot increase or decrease in position, without losing or gaining Godly traits, thus becoming a lesser God or greater god. Therefore the notion that God increasing or decreasing in position or authority means that it does not affect His nature, is highly erroneous and non-sensible. He continues:
“A careful look at the entire chapter of 14 shows the Lord Jesus claiming to have all of God’s omni-attributes:
“And I WILL DO whatever you ask IN MY NAME, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask ME for anything in my name, AND I WILL DO IT.” John 14:13-14
Christ is capable of personally answering all prayers that are directed to him or are addressed in his name. The only way that Christ can both hear and answer all these prayers is if he is both omniscient and omnipotent!”
Sam contradicts himself. At first he claims that their is a hierarchy, now he claims Christ is equal to God. After he has spent a lengthy period demonstrating that the word meizon in Greek can be used to differentiate in power and authority, to promote the understanding that it does not refer to nature (which I have demonstrated is quite ridiculous), he then makes an about turn, negates his previous arguments and tries to demonstrate that Christ is equal to God. This is a sign of a clearly confused individual, trying to reconcile an imperfect doctrine. If Jesus does have all of God’s attributes, then how is he distinct from the person of the Father? Sam’s statement, therefore negates the logic behind the Godhead, well done Sam. On that note, let’s see what the Greek of the verse also indicates. We must be reminded that the Greek of the Biblical text, as with all other languages, has depth. Subsequent to this depth, translations are often consequent to their context. In the case of the Bible, which is a religious scripture, it is quite obvious that the Christian rendition of the text, would attempt to signify Christ’s importance and stature. However, when examining the Greek, as a Muslim, I am able to explore the depth of the text and consider alternate renditions in accordance with the definitions of the words thereby employed. It is with this in mind, that I present an alternate translation based on the Greek of the text:
“And I will do whatever you ask (αιτέω) by (εν) my (μου) authority (ονομα), so that the Son may glorify to the Father. You may ask me for certain things (τίς) by (εν) my (μου) authority (ονομα), and I will do it.” – John 14:13-14, based on the GNT of the Nestle Aland 26th Codex, by way of Strong’s Greek Lexicon.
A Christian would obviously disagree with this rendition because of his presupposed theological views. However, a person who is objective and willing to examine the text for what it is, without biased presuppositions, will be able to accept this English rendition based on the depth of the words used in the verses. This is not perverting the text, as it is normal to find one Biblical verse being rendered in various ways throughout the multitude of Bible translations available to us. In fact, Sam accepts this rendition of the words from the verse used above, as he demonstrates in this article:
“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” John 5:43
Just as the late, renowned NT Greek grammarian and scholar, A.T. Robertson noted in his comments on Matt. 28:19:
… The use of name (onoma) here is a common one in the Septuagint and the papyri for power or authority… (Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament; online source; underline emphasis ours)
Thus, Sam’s reliance on one translation is very narrow minded and negates other interpretations of the Greek text, which removes Jesus’ alleged assumption of deity. It is clear from the Greek rendition provided above, that Christ is saying he can do only what he can, by which his authority allows him, therefore he is not omnipotent. Sam does say that Christ is capable of answering all of a Christian’s prayers, so I am going to apply the principle of proof by contradiction and challenge Sam to pray to Christ and ask for a unicorn to appear in front of me, as his rendition of the verse claims that you can ask Christ for anything and he would do it. Since this is not true, and a unicorn will not appear, it is then quite understandable that the verse’s rendition and the conclusions of which Sam has derived from it, are highly inaccurate. He continues by appealing to another verse:
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, AND I AM IN YOU. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:20-21″
Again, with returning to the Greek of the text, Sam’s conclusions can be easily negated:
“On that day you will know that I am before/ wherewith (εν) my Father, and you are before/ wherewith (εν) me, and I am before/ wherewith (εν) you. Whoever has my commandments and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him”. – John 14:20-21, based on the GNT of the Nestle Aland 26th Codex, by way of Strong’s Greek Lexicon.
The word “before” is used in the sense that you are in the presence of someone (e.g. I can’t talk now, I’m before the judge), hence the inclusion of the alternate word, wherewith, meaning with a person.This makes the most sense, as Jesus would show himself to those persons and therefore will be before (in the presence of) them and the Lord. Sam makes an interesting interpretation of the verse, he says:
“Christ says that he is IN all the disciples, an impossible claim if he was only a man, or even an angel. But since Jesus is God, and since God is omnipresent, it therefore makes perfect sense for Christ to say he is able to dwell in all the believers at the same time.”
What does he mean that God will be ‘in the disciples’? Does he mean physically? Spiritually? This doesn’t prove Christ’s deity, rather it raises a rather serious theological issue, what does God mean that He will be ‘in’ us? This clearly brings to the forefront, more questions than answers, but if it is one thing Sam’s statements does in this case, it is clearly not proving Jesus’ deity. Sam continues:
“Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him.’” John 14:23
Both the Father and the Son make their home with all true believers! Christ is clearly claiming co-equality with the Father since he is present with every believer in the same way that the Father is!”
Sam’s logic is that if God accompanies the believers with Christ, then Christ is claiming he is co-equal to the Father. Using Sam’s logic, since the believers are going to be present with the Lord in the same way Christ is present with the Lord, then the believers are all ‘clearly claiming co-equality’ with the Father. Since the latter is nonsensical, how can the former be true? Sam’s logic is clearly infantile, if it cannot work both ways, why does he expect it to work one way? This then, manipulates the full meaning of the text beyond its intended scope. Sam spends the rest of his time trying to equate Christ with the Lord, all of which are easily explained and debunked with employing basic logic and reasoning.
One problem with Sam’s understanding, is that if Sam is promoting the belief that their is a hierarchy, why is he investing so much time into explain ways in which Christ is equal to the Father? Does he not understand how a hierarchy works? By claiming the Father can be greater than the Son, and then demonstrating how the Father is not equal to the Son, Sam is actually contradicting himself. Therefore, in light of Sam’s rivalling explanations, I must ask him, do you believe that the Son is equal to the Father or that the Son belongs in a hierarchy with the Father? The both cannot be true, as either the Son is on par with, or below or greater in rank and authority than the Father. Lastly, Sam claims:
“Thus, the Father was greater in position and rank, not in essence and nature. The questioner is, therefore, committing a categorical fallacy. He/she is confusing the category of position and rank with the category of essence and nature, erroneously assuming that if one is greater in one way, i.e. position and authority, than he/she must be greater in every way, i.e. essence and nature. In light of these clear biblical truths, such is not the case at all.”
Sam’s conclusion is beyond absurd and borders dogmatic arrogance. How can the Father’s rank not describe his essence? How can the Father be greater in rank, but equal in nature? This is like saying, in a track race, the three fastest runners are equal, but the one track runner is first, another second and another third. There clearly is a contradiction in his reasoning and the more he tries to explain it, the more he seems to put his foot in his mouth.
Think of it this way, if the Father is the exact same to the Son in essence and nature, in what way does the Father differ to be superior (greater) than the Son? Sam’s answer is that being greater means that the Son is still the same with the Father, therefore it is either that Sam does not understand the meaning of the word ‘greater’, or the word ‘hierarchy’ or he does not understand the meaning of both those words and the logic behind them. Since this is the case, consider this to be another case of Shamounian logic.
wa Allaahu ‘Alam.
It seems you have made the mistake of not understanding what Christians believe, it is obvious to me that Sam is speaking from the Jesus position on the earth as a man or should I say God-man.
If that is case then it makes perfect sense if you believe in the Trinity take these scriptures for example.
1Co 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Co 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
Why mention Spirit,Lord and God meaning the Father why not just say God does all three.
What about the resurrection?
Jesus according to the text rose himself from the dead
Joh 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
Joh 2:20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
Joh 2:21 But he spake of the temple of his body.
Father rose Jesus from the dead
Gal 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
The Holy Spirit rose Jesus from the dead
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Why not just God raised him from the dead? Why mention not just the testimony of Paul but also from Jesus himself.
“How can the Father’s rank not describe his essence? How can the Father be greater in rank, but equal in nature? ”
don’t u see that this polytheistic minded pagan bit**h is catholic in disguise? john paul is of the same nature which is flesh, but has a higher rank. queen elizabeth is made of flesh, but has a higher rank. police are made of flesh but have a higher rank. don’t you see that he is injecting human ideas into his god? there is a reason why christians are not monethiests put 100 percent polythesit pagans. why they have a problem with attis, innana, osiris is beyond me. if you put the 3 in a boxing ring the father would dominate each round because the other two are subservient to the rank of the father lol lol it is like a son says to his father after his father slaps him , “good thing you are my father, otherwise i would kick the hell out of you” this is what these pagans are saying indirectly , otherwise there would be all out war in the trinity god . make them disagree and have the son abuse the father and father abuse the son with their natures.
shamoun is only making agreement between his pagan gods because he wants to keep the persons under the umbrella called god.
“jesus according to the text rose himself from the dead
father rose jesus from the dead
The holy spirit rose jesus from the dead.”
what is the difference when one says vishu, prabhu and shiva rose jebus from the dead?
you think 3 coquals rose dead meat from death? if one person had the ability to RAISE the dead meat from the death then why does there have to be a communion to raise dead meat from death?
let me explain
u are filled by the spirit, not jesus or the father
jesus gets butchered on the cross, not the father + spirit
jesus ASKS questions to the father, the father empowers him, jesus never empowers the father
in the same way if 1 person can do the job without HELP from the other person, then what point is there for each person raising the dead meat?
all 3 gods in trinity chat with each other
the father pours his wrath on the son
these items ARE SEPERATE TO honest minds.
Can you help me in regards to the scriptures I posted yesterday I want to get a Muslim perspective on these verses, I’m not really interested in what Sam Shamoun is saying because the verses I have given speaks about the Trinity having a part to play in the resurrection.
Also in the giving of spiritual gifts all three are involved nothing of rank is spoken in these verses, we see gifts…administrations…operations done the Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost
We are not talking about Hindu gods I’m talking about the verses I posted do they reveal a rank in the decision to raise Jesus from the dead?
In any case the Hindu’s believe in many gods which I do not believe in three gods.
Even the koran says “say not three” but it does not qualify what it means by three and yussef Ali’s translation of the koran makes a grave by putting “Trinity” when it is not in the original Arabic text…it was added.
I have always been told that the koran was produced to make things clear, but from the text we still don’t know what “three” means in Sura 4:171
Nowhere in the koran is it stated that there is no Father ,Son and Holy Ghost and so to be against the Trinity when the koran does not say against it is ignorance.
Can you post a text from the koran that speaks against Christian trinity not three gods but what Christians actually believe.
This is exactly why Christian apologists are so hard to nail down. The Biblical God is made of theological Lego Bricks that can be added and remove as the occasion arises, especially in apologetic arguments. It is here that these Lego theological bricks built the Bible (with its God) and now it builds Jesus (notice I use the active verb as Jesus can be changed without notice to keep him theologically functioning in any debate).
So when Jesus needs God – Jesus does not talk to himself – but now the Lego Brick with the “God Incarnate” is removed and we have an external God talking to Jesus in the Gospels (at his Baptism and on the Mt. of Transfiguration). But with this Lego God removed; Christianity runs into a major hermeneutical problem of heresy in having created two Gods: Jesus and Yahweh. Plus, add the third Lego Block in the presences of the Holy Spirit and we have (Oh hell!) polytheism big time! Hey, no problem! Just snap on the Trinity Lego Brick”
“n any case the Hindu’s believe in many gods which I do not believe in three gods.”
DON’T LIE . you are a polythiest, why is that hard for you to believe? if an EYE was stretched ACROSS 3 PEOPLE , we would call it “shared eye” in your pagan religion, you have 3 PERSONS ,each who have a brain of thier own and each who is ABLE TO FUNCTION WITHOUT THE ASSISTANCE of the other. what do you call this? if america, britian and china used one sattellite to spy on russia, would it mean that 1 land is spying on russia because it is using ONE SATTELLITE?
the 3 bodyless pagan spirits/persons u worship and who have “loving communion” are 3 pagan gods under the umbrella/BUILDING/COMPANY called “god” why can’t u see this simply fact?
one other thing
tell me why does gods love include having his CREATED flesh mauled and then hung on a stick? if a person said he loved you and that his love included CUTTING himself with a blade to make himself suffer, would you call that sane? god shows u how much he loves you by getting whipped so that his flesh is open? just IMAGINE that right now and tell me why do you people get a buzz out of flesh getting torn? why this gruesome and sadistic way?
“Even the koran says “say not three” but it does not qualify what it means by three and yussef Ali’s translation of the koran makes a grave by putting “Trinity” when it is not in the original Arabic text…it was added.”
i thought you got spanked here
now you are repeating yourself here?
I admire your stamina, dear Ijaz. I’ve read some of the stuff from our favourite polemicists on Answering Islam and I must say, I’m not particularly impressed (though when you try to raise methodological problems you get told you’re wasting your time, and theirs too).
Unfortunately, few minds will remain changed when it comes to the AI lot – there is a serious lack of intellectual probity – it’s far more polemical than informative – I hear so much about Christian humility and the want of my Christian friends to emulate Christ – but ; rather than taking Muslims in what they believe and looking at the whole (hermeneutic) history of Islamic scholarship, their website caters to their interpretation of what a ‘Salafi’ should believe – which is just nonsense considering that the breadth of Islamic scholarship is much, much wider than just Ibn Taymiyya or the Hanbali/Ash’ari traditions.
Nonetheless, this made for an excellent read. I, too, am perplexed at what our dear brother Sam means by:
“Yet, if God is a Trinity, a Trinitarian Being (i.e. one eternal God existing in three distinct, yet inseparable Persons), then it is quite possible for one member or Person of the Godhead to be greater in some sense than the other members”
This presents a tremendous number of ontological and theological problems – it is subjecting God to ‘necessities’ – which, as someone who happens to believe that God is beyond description and cannot be pinned down in an essentialist sense. Also, is this theology-preceding-Scripture? I’d be interested thus to hear in what ways the Son is greater than the Father, or the Spirit is greater than the Father and Son – and why they believe that is, considering that “it is quite possible for one…Person of the Godhead to be greater in some sense than the other members.”
*EDIT :”which, as someone who happens to believe that God is beyond description and cannot be pinned down in an essentialist sense, this causes problems for.
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Hello defendchrist, how can you claim the Holy Qur’an does not condemn your trinitarian beliefs, when you very well know that it denies the divinity of Jesus Christ? By doing this, the Qur’an shows that, just like a three-legged stool, all you have to do is rip one leg off and the whole concept will come crushing down.
Hey Atheist claim there is no god does that mean their statement is true? The koran can say what it wants that doesn’t make it true.
It denies the crucifixion and doesn’t even explain that clearly.
Where does the koran condemn the trinity? And what I mean by that is the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost.
If you don’t believe in the deity of Christ that’s ok but you’re just wasting your time trying bring down Christianity it’s not going to work.
There is no God-man. There is one God. God is no man.
“Deity of Christ?” Words without meaning.
Hi defendchrist, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. You appear to have missed the point of my post.
I showed that for your Trinity to be valid, Jesus must be God the son. The Qur’an, however, denies the divinity of Jesus. The Qur’an, therefore, indirectly condemns the Trinity by denying one of its participants a share in divinity. For the Trinity to be valid, Jesus should be divine.
The Qur’an, therefore does not support the union of Christ, the ‘father’ and the holy spirit in divinity.